On October 31st, 2016, I finished my first novel. Or rather, my first novel’s first draft. Over time, I had started to think this was an impossible feat for me. How did I do it? Short answer: perseverance and baby steps.
You see, I have a problem with moderation. An example of this would be NaNoWriMo. When I first stumbled upon it, it seemed like the ultimate solution to finishing drafts. It fit my short an intense mentality so well that I felt it had been created for me.
Except that it was not short enough and too intense. NaNoWriMo wasn’t a sprint, it was a marathon. Only Barney Stinson can run a marathon without training for it first, and we all know how that ended for him. My former attempts ended lamentably just before the end of the second week, my imagination having been sucked dry, my motivation having left for lazy vacations in the Bahamas.
The problem, you see, was that I’d basically go from writing a little occasionally, to writing like a madman daily… When you look at it logically, it’s obvious I’d fail. But I wanted to believe in a miracle.
However, today is November 20 and I’m still in the race. What changed? One simple thing: this year, I had already be writing 500+ words a day for 2½ months before I took on myself to write 1,667 a day. I am late though. Today, I should have written 33,333 words and as I am writing this I “only” have 25,250 (which is still 1,262 words a day, more than double my former productivity). But you know what? It’s okay.
It’s okay because this year, my goal is just to finish the damn thing. To get to the finish line. I’ll try to reach 50,000 words, but I won’t make myself sick over being late. I’ve written over a thousand word daily until now and I know I can keep that pace. If I do, I’ll still have written 40,000 words in a single month. This is definitely an improvement. And more importantly, I will still be writing, not curled up in bed lamenting what a loser I am for giving up.
So my word of advice for you today: just keep going. Slow your pace if you have to. Fifty thousand words is an arbitrary goal. The real goal is to keep writing and finish the thing, however long that might take. Think of it that way: what you really want, in the end, is to write. Publishing and monetizing your writing is just fluff around the goal. Like Henry Miller said, writing is its own reward.
By the way, feel free to add me as a NaNo buddy. Look up Auclond.
Don’t be a writer, be writing.
– William Faulkner